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Fast Five with author Michael Scanlon

I’ve recently read Michael Scanlon’s new book – Where She Lies (read my review here). I loved the book so much, I just had to ask Michael some questions!

Firstly, Thank you so much for taking the time to answer a few questions in Booked up girl’s first “Fast Five” interview series! Michael, could you start off by telling us a bit about yourself … 

I live outside the town of Ballina, which is in the County of Mayo, in the West of Ireland.  I live with my wife Eileen and our ten year old daughter, Sarah… oh, and our mad half Pomeranian half something else dog called Fifi. I was also born in Ballina, but left home at sixteen and spent much of my life away, in the U.K. and America. I also travelled extensively throughout Europe as a youngster (I was incredibly restless) and had way too many jobs to mention here. But for the last fourteen years I have been a civilian employee of An Garda Síochána, the Irish police service. This has given me a unique insight into police operational procedures, which has proven invaluable in writing my crime novels. On this topic, while many crime novels get very technical around issues such as forensics, I know that most police officers only have a rudimentary understanding of this, even detectives. Specialities are best left to specialists! 

 Where She Lies is your first novel – and it comes out today! I read it over one day and couldn’t put it down, I absolutely loved it! In your own words, could you tell us a little bit about the book?

Well, the book is set in the fictitious Irish town of Cross Beg and centres on a series of murders which reveal the secrets and double lives of some of the town’s inhabitants. The main protagonist is Garda Sergeant Finnegan Beck, demoted from the rank of Inspector while at Pearse Street station in Dublin. The reason for this is revealed later in the book. Finnegan Beck doesn’t want to be in Cross Beg, struggles with a drink problem, struggles with relationships, struggles with reoccurring nightmares that I hint are as a result of childhood sexual abuse. Beck might be a miserable policeman at times, but his job is his vocation and, the more gruesome the investigation, the better he can stop thinking of his demons. I’m enjoying making him a living, breathing character and hope to develop him further in the future.

1. Writing your first novel must have been really exciting, how did you find the process, was it as you expected?

 I’ve been writing all my life. I’ve had short stories and such like published, but this is my first novel (although I have some five novels in the bottom of drawers that will never see the light of day).  I found the process exciting, daunting, frustrating, but ultimately rewarding. Parts of my new novel I really like, and parts I don’t. I’m nervous about how people will receive it, but hope most people will like it.  If they like it, I hope they will tell the world. If they don’t, best keep it to themselves. I’m a sensitive soul.

2. When you began writing what was your thought process, did you already have an idea of how you wanted the story to end, or did it develop as you were writing? 

I set out without any clear idea beyond the body of a girl found in a wood. That was a piece I’d written and I liked it and thought I could make more of it.  So I took it from there. I didn’t plan or plot. I just went ahead. And small towns have always interested me, grubby around the edges places, down at heel. That’s how Cross Beg came about. 

3. Where She Lies centres around Detective Finnegan Beck. Could you tell us more about his character and where your inspiration came from? Did you see any of yourself in him?

First off, the original name I had in mind for Finnegan Beck was Ignatius Bones. I always thought it was a perfect name for a detective and had it in my head for a long time. However, the publishers thought it had too much of a horror ring to it, and decided on Beck. I always like characters in fiction who are flawed, which is really a reflection of the human condition I suppose. Is there a bit of me in him you ask? Maybe, but not the extremes (although in my younger years I was somewhat wild).

4. I already can’t wait for the next book, can you tell us what are you working on next; are we going to see more of Detective Beck? Perhaps give us a little hint at what we can look forward to reading?  

My next book is written and currently being edited. Yes of course, it centres around Beck and his colleague, Claire Somers. There is a murder, that much I can say, more than one, and the early part of the novel interchanges with an incident that happened in the 1950s. In this work I’ve tried to bring in a sense of immediacy to the writing. In some ways, I’m still experimenting.

5. What’s on your To Be Read (TBR) list for 2019?

I have something to admit here. I’m a slow reader, but I am always reading. My Sunday newspaper takes me a couple of days to read alone, cover to cover. I admire people who can read a book in a week, sometimes in a day. I can’t. I invest time and read slowly. It’s the way I’ve always been (maybe I have a touch of dyslexia and don’t know it). I don’t have a TBR list for 2019. I watch reviews, and if something really takes my interest, I’ll buy it. I read The Dry by Jane Harper and thought it was excellent and I’ll definitely get her second book, Force of Nature.  Also, I read reviews of a French writer, Michel Bussi and got some of his books. I think he’s amazing. And I was given a Kindle for Christmas, so I’m going to read fellow Bookouture authors. Beyond that, I don’t know.

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